Life in Egypt

Jump right in to your host family's way of life. My host family ate some meals on the ground and they wanted to move to the table for me, but I said no. The more you try to be a part of their lives, the more you will get out of it. You will fall in love with the people and the culture.Adelaide from NE, Summer Language Study Program
It was really hard to adjust to the sleep/wake cycle in Egypt. There is a totally different system, mostly staying up late, and getting up late. It really threw me for a loop. In the US, everyone is moving by 8. In Egypt, it may be 11.Dayton from AZ, Year Program
When offering an Egyptian something, they will automatically say no the first time, assuming that you will offer it again, when they can say yes. They consider it a sign of politeness.Nicholas from MI, Year Program
The one thing that is very concerning is indirect communication. One thing to remember is that Egyptians will always appear to let you do whatever you want to do, when in reality, they want you to do something else. Instead of asking them bluntly, like in America, phrase your question as "Would it be BETTER if I...". Nicholas from MI, Year Program
As an American, time is a very important. In Egypt, time is stressed much less. A phrase used to describe Egyptian life is "malish", meaning "no worries." It was very hard for me to arrive everywhere late; however, now, whenever I feel stressed about time, I just say "malish" and move on.Hannah from MD, Summer Language Study Program
I found it hard to convince my host family that I was full. They were always wanting me to eat more. I loved the food, but I could never eat enough.Adelaide from NE, Summer Language Study Program
Egyptians, especially the "upper class", are extremely well-dressed, take a lot of pride in their appearance and definitely expect you to as well. I packed much too casually not knowing this, and I wish I had known ahead of time.Julia from CA, Summer Language Study Program
Word travels very quickly in Egyptian circles. It was hard getting used to being consistently aware of the image you portrayed to everyone. The way you dressed, talked, or spoke was remarked upon by someone. There is no word in Arabic for "privacy" after all.Danielle from PA, Summer Language Study Program
The most challenging thing was to be able to decipher the unspoken, seemingly untouchable rules in society. Being Americans, we typically are open to a lot of things and forget to censor ourselves. As long as you ask before you act you will save yourself a lot of strife.Taylor from LA, Summer Language Study Program
Do not drink the tap water. They say that for a reason. I didn't and I didn't get sick, everybody else did, and they got sick.Caitlin from FL, Summer Language Study Program

Digging Deeper

Language Resources
Cultural Resources
News and Media
Movies and Documentaries
  • The Beginning and the End (1960)
  • Alexandria-Why (1979)
  • Halim (2006)
  • Mother of the Bride (1963)
  • Cleopatra (1963)
  • The Yacoubian Building (2006)
  • Scheherazade, Tell Me a Story (2009)
  • Microphone (2010)
  • Heliopolis (2009)
  • Ancient Egypt 
  • Magical Egypt (2001)
Books
  • Warlocks (2001)
  • The Cat of Bubastes (1889)
  • Tales of Ancient Egypt (1967)
  • The Yacoubian Building (2002)
  • Zaynab (1913)
  • Cairo Trilogy (2001)
  • The Map of Love (1999)
  • The Egyptian (1945)
  • Khufu's Wisdom (1939)
  • Maryam's Maze (2004)
  • My Egyptian Grandmother's Kitchen (2006)
  • Beneath the Sands of Egypt (2010)
LGBTQ Resources (Diversity) Heritage and Ethnicity Resources (Diversity)
Note: The links and resources listed in "Digging Deeper" have been provided to AFS by people involved with our organization, including alumni members, volunteers, etc. AFS has not reviewed the resources in their entirety and presents them "as is" for your own information. As such, the sites, publications, films, etc. do not necessarily reflect the approval of nor the views, opinions, and/or values of AFS.